“So you think you can solve the global food crisis?” Hult’s SoBiz: Beyond Profit club members asked their fellow students during a panel discussion on November 15. Five Bay Area food and agriculture professionals came to the Hult San Francisco campus to address some of the many issues contributing to the worldwide issues surrounding food, discuss possible solutions, and take questions from the close to 90 students in attendance.
The event ran in conjunction with the school’s 2013 Hult Prize competition, which is asking participants to address the global food crisis. SoBiz aimed to connect with the 37 teams of Hult students who are vying for a spot in the challenge and help them learn more about their ultimate objective.
SoBiz member and MSE candidate Samuel Benoit, who has spent time as a field worker and educator on food and environmental issues, moderated the event. The passionate panel included:
- Kathleen McAfee, San Francisco State University professor
- Twilight Greenaway, journalist and food editor at Grist
- Adam Scow, California Campaigns Director at Food and Water Watch
- Justin Cutter, founder of Compass Green, a mobile greenhouse project
- Rajiv Khanna, educator conducting research at the International Development Exchange
Noting the variety of speakers, the presence of activists and entrepreneurs, and the overall passion towards organic products and sustainable practices, Greenaway declared the group a "very Bay Area panel."
In their roughly one-hour time slot, the panelists scratched the surface of the crisis by bringing up a range of issues surrounding food: hunger, contamination, waste, large corporations controlling food sources, the loss of farmland, and more. Benoit thanked the panelists for not simplifying the crisis.
A few notable facts and possible Hult Prize ideas the panelists brought up:
- McAfee stated that food is being made for money, not for nourishment. She raised the potential solution of food sovereignty, which would offer a democratic method of food production and consumption, rather than have large markets dominate the system. Twenty to 30 percent of the food in our region is sold at Walmart, said Scow, making it the nation's largest food retailer.
- Cutter mentioned that newer is not always better when it comes to farming technology and he'd like to see farmers revert back to older, safer, greener methods.
- Forty percent of the food produced in the U.S. goes to waste, said Greenaway. It's a specific problem she said she'd like to see the Hult Prize contestants address.
While the overall mood was serious and somewhat gloomy, given the current state of the global food industry, the panel ended on a positive note, as the speakers enthusiastically agreed that there is hope, and the start of the solution could be here at Hult.
What is SoBiz? The Hult SoBiz: Beyond Profit club promotes social business and enterprise on campus, so it’s only natural that the club, which includes students from all four of Hult SF’s programs, would assist the school with generating enthusiasm for and organizing events that correlate to the Hult Prize on the San Francisco campus.
Photo: Rebecca Joyce